After winning back-to-back state titles during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, the Reno Huskies were knocked off last season by Bishop Manogue, but are setting up to return to the throne.
The Huskies lost many vital players to graduation in 2014, but lost little experience from last season and are returning a plethora of talent including two-time state player of the year and Oregon commit, Malloy McGwire. The Miners lost All-Region player of the year Breezi Holt, but are also shaping up to be one of the strongest teams in Northern Nevada. Reed and McQueen also bring back plenty of experience, but this year’s teams are young all around.
Head coach: Carlnel Wiley
Record last season: 23-6 (Lost in state semifinals to Centennial)
Key returners: Hannah Bingham, senior, guard; Katie Turner, junior, guard; Malia Holt, junior, guard; Tawni Henderson, senior
Key losses: Breezi Holt and Madison Lewis
Outlook for the season: The strongest team from Northern Nevada last season, Manogue will have to reload after losing the Northern Region Division I co-Player of the Year, Breezi Holt, now at Cal Poly. The Miners also lost Maddie Lewis who was an All-Region performer, but the Miners have a lot of talent, especially with their guards. Returning All-League players Malia Holt and Hannah Bingham, along with junior Katie Turner will try to make sure Manogue is still a juggernaut. Last year at home the Miners were undefeated when playing at 110 Bishop Manogue Drive.
Coach Wiley is especially high on his senior guard, Tawni Henderson who was an all-league selection last year. “She’s the key for us,” Wiley said. “She’s a fireball and a great sharpshooter. Phenomenal all-around player.”
New coach Carlnel Wiley leads the Miners after Craig Holt stepped down following last season. “I’m excited to join the Bishop Manogue family,” Wiley wrote in an email to the RGJ in June. “The school has built a foundation on families and the community and is committed to the success of its students on and off the court. I look forward to being part of a family with such a strong foundation on values and education. It is my goal to work with the girls and help take the team to the next level.”
Head coach: Melissa Larson
Record last season: 12-15 (Lost to Reno in the first round of the playoffs)
Key returners: Melissa Glanzmann, senior, guard and Andrea Maffei, senior, guard
Key losses: Maddie Preston, Michelle Perry and Kayla Aikins
Outlook: First-year coach Melissa Larson takes over at Carson this season and wants her squad to focus on defense. “If we can stop teams, do our job and be smart on offense, I think we can be competitive,” Larson said.
Larson also wants her team to take care of the ball and “will not accept mediocrity.” Larson’s squad will have a different look this year as the team lost three All-Region players in Maddie Preston, Michelle Perry and Kayla Aikins. Senior guards Melissa Glanzmann and Andrea Maffei are going to be relied on to lead the Senators and Larson is confident about her younger players picking up the slack as well. “We’re going to do different things this year,” Larson said. “Who’s going to step up is up to them.”
Head coach: Ed Shepard
Record last season: 9-13 (no playoffs)
Key returners: Morgan Waller, senior, forward; Meagan Carlson, senior, center; Kyra Bruesewitz, senior, guard; Victoria Moore, senior, guard
Key losses: Holly Faitin and Kyana Moore
Outlook: Last season the Mustangs started quickly, but two of the team’s main players went down with injuries and the team sputtered with a six-game losing streak and missed the playoffs. “We had kind of a heartbreak season, we started out great, but had Kyra go down with a shoulder injury and Morgan went down for five weeks with an ankle injury,” Shepard said. Shepard in his fifth year at the helm for Damonte Ranch and in his 37th overall coaching basketball, believes that this senior-laden squad will be one of the most talented squads he’s presided over. “This team has the ability to be a top two team that I’ve coached at Damonte,” Shepard, who has also coached at Hug and Reed, said. “We do have a lot of experience. If we’re healthy, I think we can be a good basketball team, enough for top four in the region. I think we can give everyone a game this year.” New starter Alexis Hunter will lead at the point guard position along with the return of two all-league players in Meagan Carlson and Morgan Waller.
Head coach: Werner Christen
Record last season: 22-5 (lost in semifinals to Reno)
Key Returners: Maddy Lowe, senior, guard/forward
Key Losses: Leona Mortimer and Corynne Millett
Outlook: Christen didn’t mince words when talking about the youth of his team. “We might have to have car seats on the bus,” Christen said. “It’s going to be baby steps for us.” The Tigers lost four all-league players from last year to either graduation or choosing to work on other endeavors. “Our freshmen and sophomores are going to play a lot,” Christen said. “We have a long ways to go as far as getting physically ready and adjusting to the speed from eighth grade to varsity is a huge jump.” However, Christen who is in his 31st season of coaching teams at Douglas, is optimistic about his team’s fundamentals and is also proud of his team’s senior stalwart, guard/forward Maddy Lowe. “Maddy has been a tremendous leader for us,” Christen said of his senior who is signed to play at Sonoma State. “We call her mother goose because she just has tremendous patience with these kids and she’s the total package in terms of what she can do on and off the court. We’re going to be good eventually with these youngn’s; it’s just a matter of when.”
Head coach: Jeff Keyes
Record last season: 10-14 (lost in first round of playoffs to Reed)
Key Returners: Ashley Brooks, senior, guard and Josie Peck, junior, guard
Key Losses: Kaitlyn Hawthorne
Outlook: The Galena basketball team will have some new faces as the Grizzles lost all-league player and three-year starter Kaitlyn Hawthorne, along with five other starters and contributors. Galena finished last season with a first round exit in the playoffs to Reed. Jeff Keyes returns for his fourth season as the coach at Galena and will have to work with a younger team as the Grizzlies will be short-handed to start. Galena returns one starter from last year and also their sixth-man, but will have a young lineup with junior guard Josie Peck out with an injury. Keyes said his players are eager to learn and get better in practice. “We just have to improve every day and focus on the short-term as opposed to the long-term,” Keyes said. “Our focus is improving each day and the rest will take care of itself.”
Head coach: Ryan Gardner
Record Last season: 6-16 (no playoffs)
Key Returners: Lesly Grajeda, senior, guard and Shaira Roscom, junior, guard
Key Losses: Rachelle Tau and Zadrea Hawkins
Outlook: Second-year head coach Ryan Gardner leads a team that is one of the youngest in the region. The Hawks had six seniors last year and one of the team’s key players moved (all-league honorable mention selection Zadrea Hawkins). This season, Hug will have nine new faces, but what it lacks in experience is made up for in camaraderie. “Our biggest strength is our team chemistry, it’s phenomenal,” Gardner said. “Everyone is willing to coach each other because it’s friends talking to each other and not teammates.” Gardner said the team is unafraid of facing the stronger foes in the region like Reno and Manogue. “Our girls don’t see them as bigger schools because we focus on what our game plan is,” Gardner said. “We’re molding ourselves in a direction we want to go.”
Head coach: Aaron Walton
Record Last season: 12-12 (Lost in first round to Manogue)
Key Returners: Sadaria McCalister, senior, small forward; Izzy Warren, sophomore, point guard; Haley Webbert, junior, small forward
Key Losses: Megan Collins and Haylie Mathis
Outlook: The Lancers will bring back All-Northern first team selection Sadaria McAlister along with Izzy Warren who will take over at point guard and junior Haley Webbert, who has been on varsity since her freshman year. McQueen will also have the services of all-league volleyball player Holly White. Second-year coach Aaron Walton was named a co-coach of the year (along with North Valley’s Bob Bentley and Douglas’ Werner Christian) for his efforts in getting McQueen back to the playoffs. Walton will have a tough test this year as McQueen graduated four seniors, including the starting point guard and both post players. To offset this, the former assistant at Reno said his squad will be more tenacious. “We worked a lot on fast-break offense, creating turnovers and getting easier points earlier on.” Walton said. Last year the Lancers did show some positive flashes as they beat Reed for the first time since 2001. However, coach Walton wants his squad to set its sights on a higher goal. “The goal this year is to get past the first round and have a home playoff,” he said.
Head coach: Bob Bentley
Record last season: 15-10 (Lost in first round to Douglas)
Key returners: Sami Dinan, senior, guard and Morgan Daniels, senior, forward
Key losses: Elaine Johnson, Tyler Rivera, Nikki Hannon, Karolina Perez
Outlook: North Valleys will be another team that will have a lot of new faces in its starting lineup. The Panthers lost eight players, including four starters from last season. “Those four kids were the heart and soul last season, but our younger girls will step up,” Bentley said. This will be Bentley’s ninth season with North Valleys and his expectation about going to the playoffs has not changed. “We’re counting on these younger players to lead by example on and off of the floor,” he said. “We want to build and play with self-confidence.” The Panthers will be led by a pair of seniors in Sami Dinan (High Desert all-league honorable mention) and Morgan Daniels. North Valleys opens against Douglas, which they lost to in last year’s playoffs on a pair of last-second free throws.
Head coach: Sara Ramirez
Record from Last Year: 15-8 (lost to Bishop Manogue in Northern region semifinal)
Key Returners: Taylor Johnson, sophomore, guard and Serene Townsell-Williams, sophomore, guard
Key Losses: Nakiyah LeSure, Aneesa Mwakapumba
Outlook: One of the perennial powers in the region, Reed will rely on a pair of sophomores to carry the Raiders deep into the playoffs. Reed returns All-Region guard Serene Townsell-Williams and All-League honorable mention nominee Taylor Johnson. The Raiders lost Nakiyah LeSure (now at Concordia in Oregon), Aneesa Mwakapumba (a second team All-League selection) and are a young team overall, as they have only three returners. The Raiders will be made up of three juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. Ramirez isn’t deterred by her team’s lack of veterans. “Our team has a good hunger, we’re going to make mistakes, but they’re going to play through them,” Ramirez said. “We’re going to be quick, so our defensive pressure is going to be key and making other teams turn the ball over. Our goal is continuing the Raider tradition and being a threat.”
Head coach: Shane Foster
Record last season: 24-4 (Lost in Regional finals to Manogue)
Key Returners: Mallory McGwire, senior, center; Daranda Hinkey, senior, point guard; MiKayla Shults, sophomore, guard; Dominique Harding, junior, guard
Key Losses: None
Outlook: Two-time state player of the year Mallory McGwire leads a loaded Huskies team that is one of the best Foster has seen. “Mallory is a big part of it, but we are as deep this year as we have ever been since I started as head coach in 2005,” he said. “We have a lot of very accomplished players already.” In addition to McGwire, the Huskies return a number of talented players. Senior point guard Daranda Hinkey (fourth-year varsity player), MiKayla Shults (first team All-Region as a freshman) and Dominique Harding (out last year with an injury, but an all-league player as a freshman) will all look to take Reno back into state title contention. The coach also admits that his team is still focused on the basics of playing as opposed to setting their sights solely on the state title. “We don’t really put a goal up on the board, our goal is to get better every day in practice,” Foster said. “We don’t talk about winning the league, regionals or state, we talk about trying to get better every single day.”
Head coach: Art Cardenas
Record from Last Year: 6-19 (no playoffs)
Key Returners: Alyssa Dominguez, junior, guard; Ireland Bennett, junior, forward; Kalli Prendergast, sophomore, forward; Halley Morgan, senior, forward
Key Losses: Katrina Prendergast
Outlook: Spanish Springs has a somewhat veteran-laden team with six players coming back who started at one time or another for Cardenas. However, the Cougars lost all-league forward Katrina Prendergast, so they will depend on some different players and hope to rebound from a disappointing finish last season. Cardenas points out this squad will be stronger than last season and learn from those struggles. “We’ll be able to handle adversity better,” Cardenas said. “A lot of games we had silly turnovers and when you’re young, you just make a lot of little mistakes.” The Cougars will rely on senior forward Halley Morgan (an All-League honorable mention choice) and another Prendergast, Kalli, to bring them back to the playoffs. “We need to work hard and compete all the time,” Cardenas said.
Head coach: Sheryl Hicks
Record last season: 4-20 (no playoffs)
Key returners: Darlene Merrill, senior, forward/center, Leilani O’Daye, senior, guard, Desiree Bounds
Key losses: Charlie Thompson, Tara Garcia
Outlook: After a rocky start and finish to last season, Hicks will have to find a replacement for All-Region player Tara Garcia. The easy pick is for all-league honorable mention selection, senior Desiree Bounds, to take over as the leader for the Colts. Replacing Garcia won’t be easy as the forward averaged 14.5 points per game along with 7.3 rebounds. The Colts did show flashes last season as they picked up wins against bigger schools such as Damonte Ranch and Oakland’s Castlemont. Improving on the team’s 1-11 league record will be the first priority for Hicks and the rest of the Wooster coaching staff.
“We have seven juniors that have moved up so we’re going to need them to learn quickly and adjust to the varsity game,” Hicks said. “We just need to take what we do in practice and learn each day how to get better. There’s just a big learning curve for us.”
Head coach: Frank Avilla
Record last season: 3-18 (no playoffs)
Key returners: senior, center Samantha Umana; sophomore guard Angie Hurtado
Key losses: Driftwind Nau, senior, post/power forward, Jocelyn Vasquez, senior, center/power forward
Outlook: Senior center Samantha Umana (third year returner on varsity) and sophomore guard Angie Hurtado (Division I-A Northern region player of the year in soccer) lead the Railroaders in their bid to get to the post-season. Avilla believes that last season’s record of 3-18 doesn’t tell the full story of where his team can go. “We were in the games a lot last year,” Avilla said. “So this year we’re looking how to complete the win and moving forward in that direction.” Avilla said his team is going to focus on defense at being “scrappy” and creating turnovers. “We only have a few bigs so we’re going to have to learn to play the game properly; we’re going to have to create pressure on defense.” Avila, who is also the boys soccer coach at Sparks, thinks his squad can turn some heads this season. “I do believe we are heading in the right direction and that we can be competitive,” he said.